Jesus Glorified is the Lamb Slain

Today, we in America celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (the technical feast day was Thursday). Jesus, our Risen Lord, takes his body up to the Father so it can be glorified for all time as the Lamb that was slain upon the altar of Heaven, forever offering himself as restitution for our sins, forever allowing the blood from his hands, his feet, and his heart, wash the sinner's sins away and allowing his earthly body and heavenly spirit nourish and strengthen his body the Church. Forever, this Lamb sends forth the Spirit to those of us still living upon the earth.

You might think it's strange to think of our Risen Lord as a slain lamb, and I did too, until I began listening to an amazing CD by Scott Hahn (Title: Understanding the Eucharist), and he talked about Revelation 5 - a chapter I had never really paid much attention to in a book I used only for references (not a great way to use any book of the Bible, much less this most beautiful one that deserves so much more attention). What he brought to my attention was something that I know I knew somewhere, but I had never really understood the magnitude of.

John is having a vision of Heaven, and none  on the earth, beneath the earth, or in heaven were able to open the scroll with seven seals, and John begins to cry. However, one of the elders speaks up, "Do not weep. The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed, enabling him to open the scroll with its seven seals." These are the images we are used to describing Christ by - the lion of Judah, the root of David, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, triumphant, crowned in glory and clothed in splendor as in the transfiguration.

But that is not what John sees. Instead, he saw "standing in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and the elders, a Lamb that seemed to have been slain." And, if we look back to Acts 1, when Jesus is taken up and the disciples are standing, staring at the sky, the angels come and tell them, "This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven." And how did he go to heaven? He went to heaven bearing the scars of his death. He still had the nail marks and the wound in his side. These did not magically vanish. Rather, it is because of these that he is so worthy of praise, for if you continue reading on in Revelation 5, we see the praises lavished upon our Lord.
First, the elders sing,
Then, the angels,
"Worthy are you... for you were slain and with your blood, you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation...."
"Worthy is the lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing."
"To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever." (Rev 5:8-13)
But why does he remain as a slain lamb? Because it is who he is. Yes, he is the King of kings. Yes, he is the Lord of lords. Yes, he is the Prince of peace, the Mighty one, the Ancient of Days, the Alpha and Omega, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Incarnation, our Brother, our Risen Lord, and now, our Glorified Lord. But none of these changes what is his nature, his identity. He came to earth and took human flesh so that he could become our High Priest - he who sacrifices - and our Pascal Lamb - the sacrifice. He did not come to be the king; he came to die, to offer his life to us and for us. He offers his body to us in his death and repeatedly as the sacrifice that saves us from death.

Our Lord came to earth for the purpose of dying for us so that he could establish a covenant where no other death was necessary. After Good Friday and Easter Sunday, no other sacrifice was ever going to be necessary for Jesus is - and always will be - the sacrifice offered eternally for us. And when we get to heaven, we can join the elders, the angels, and the other saints in worshiping the Lamb who was slain for our sins by bowing down before our Lord's glorious body, not hidden from our view but in full glory. We can then worship the risen. glorified Lord who still remains the Lamb for us for that is the source of his glory. It is His identity.

He reigns forever as the sacrifice so that we might, by his merit, gain access to the heavenly courts. But he does not leave us alone here. He promised he would never leave us though his singular body was drawn up to the Lord so the Spirit could come. He sends himself to us in the most intimate of ways. He is, as he said in John 6, the bread that comes down from heaven, the new manna that falls every day, to nourish us, to bring us into a true, holy, complete union with him, and so form us into his body (1 Cor 10:16-17).
I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” -John 6:48-51
He came to us to establish the New Covenant foretold in Jeremiah 31. He establishes this when he takes the chalice into his hands and says, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”(Luke 22:20; Also Mt. 26 and Mk 14).
He offers this body to us, inviting us to "celebrate the [Pascal] feast" (1 Cor 5:8) and so be joined into one body with him. He continues to be the High Priest (Hebrews 7) whose sole job was to offer sacrifices on behalf of the people, but unlike the priests before, this new High Priest - in the order of Melchizedek (who offered bread and wine long before blood sacrifices were necessary) - continually offers himself as the sacrificial lamb, but he does not die many times, for he has died, and he has risen, but he offers himself - his body - as manna (bread) from heaven and offers along with it, as did Melchizedek, the cup of the new covenant which, as the author of Hebrews points out, has the ability to cleans our consciences and take away our sins (Hebrews 9) so that we can wait his second coming with joy, knowing that he will come to take us to those houses he says he goes to prepare.

It is because of this sacrifice, this beautiful offering of his life, that his name was glorified as the name before which all knees shall bow. So, let us glorify this Risen Lord who is the Lamb. Let us worship him, offer him our praise, our thanks, and our love. He died for us, and therefore, he is worthy of all of our praise. Let us never forget that Jesus is not just the risen, mighty, glorious King of kings, but he is - by definition, by Revelation (pun belatedly intended), and by his Love - our Pascal Lamb, offered for us so that we, who could never merit heaven alone, could gain access to heaven. He took his human, physical body back up to heaven so that he could send it with his spirit back to us so that we could be fed, nourished, and never alone. Praise be to God! Hallelujah!
And then "every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe" cried


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